Mark Udall talks about his Western ties |

Mark Udall talks about his Western ties

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado ” Mark Udall invoked his family ties to the West Saturday in an acceptance speech after Democrats nominated him to run for the U.S. Senate and worked to select delegates to the party’s national convention.

Udall, a U.S. representative from Boulder County, is opposing former Republican Rep. Bob Schaffer in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Wayne Allard.

During his speech, Udall told the crowd gathered in this Republican stronghold city south of Denver that, if elected, he would support alternative energy development, affordable health care and a plan to get the United States out of Iraq.

He was heckled several times when he criticized the war in Iraq, with protesters noting Udall also voted to fund the war. Udall didn’t respond.

The state Democratic Party Convention drew an estimated 10,000 to the World Arena as delegates for Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton competed for the spots at the national convention in August in Denver.

The crowds filled the arena and its parking lots, and at least two men were arrested for trying to get into the event without credentials.

Udall said he is well aware of the West’s issues, not only through his experience in Congress but through his family.

His father, the late Morris Udall, represented Arizona for three decades in the U.S. House and sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1976, finishing second to Jimmy Carter. His uncle, Stewart Udall, was a three-term Arizona congressman becoming interior secretary in 1961.

His cousin, Tom Udall, is a Democratic congressman from New Mexico.

“These generations that came before us worked together to write the story of the West, and I will carry their spirit and passion with me to the United States Senate,” Udall said. “It’s going to take every bit of our western strength, our practical problem-solving, our independent thinking and our common sense to get our country back on track again.”

Gov. Bill Ritter told the packed venue that 2,000 people attended the state convention two years ago but the ranks have swelled with Democratic victories in the West that attracted national attention.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar said Democrats are counting on Udall to increase their majority in the Senate to 60.

Pollster Floyd Ciruli said Democrats have a chance of wresting another seat from Republicans but it will be difficult because Republicans still outnumber Democrats in Colorado which has a reputation as a swing state.

A large number of issues aimed at the November ballot, including a measure declaring a fetus a person, could draw a lot of Republicans to the polls, he noted.

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